Looking around at the cruelty and callousness in the world, don’t you kind of wish that God would just show Himself to everyone so that human beings would straighten up and stop doing evil things? Don’t you wish God would appear and make all of the difficult sufferings in your life better? The Prophet Isaiah begged for God’s intervention in his own wayward time with a groaning heart of frustration and fervent supplication. Like him, we may find ourselves crying out to the Lord of All,
“Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!”
But He already did.
God of All, Creator and Master of the Universe, pierced through time and space to come down among us. Did the mountains quake with His coming as fire makes the water boil? No. As the Prophet Elijah was shown, however, God’s presence is made more purely manifest — not in a fierce storm, the crushing of rocks, or a fiery blaze — but in a still, small voice.
Have you ever heard the breathing of a newborn child? Do you know the sound of a tiny baby’s gentle coo? This is the littleness wherein we are to seek the presence of the divine, the reality of God among us. For when the Lord did rend the heavens and come down to earth, so that all nations might fear Him, He did so by taking on the fragility of flesh, becoming one of us, and living a little life of quiet obscurity. For thirty years, God walked among us, and no one who saw Him or passed Him by was brought low in fear and trembling before the incarnate presence of their Creator. Yet He was there, among them, standing right in front of them, doing carpentry work for them, eating at their tables, or letting them go ahead of Him up the temple steps.
They didn’t recognize the divine presence.
You may say that there is nothing fearsome about a baby, nothing about Jesus Christ that would cause nations to bow down before the one, true living God, nothing that would cause anyone to fear the Lord. Even the darkened sky and quaking earth at the moment of Jesus’s death upon the Cross was too easily dismissible as a strange phenomenon and nothing more. Jesus’s resurrection from the dead is, of course, a mighty and awesome deed performed by God to prove His power over all, but even that didn’t come in a blaze of glory. He showed Himself rather quietly to His friends and disciples, with no shouting, no fanfare — He was just there, speaking to them as He had always done with the voice of one seemingly ordinary man. And when He ascended into Heaven, it was not even in a chariot of fire. It was in a gentle mist, the softness of a cloud.
If Almighty, Infinite, and Eternal God is willing to empty Himself of all claims to grand superiority and become the lowest of the low for love of you… is that not a fearsome love? To use all divine power to become a helpless newborn baby — what kind of God is this? The only God, the one, true Source of all being and Creator of all life, because only love, divine love, can crush rocks by sheer will and set fireballs blazing in order to create the tenderness of flesh and the quiet stillness of a loving voice.
God chose to come down in humility and simplicity precisely to reveal the truth about goodness, the truth about humankind. Every human being is an image of God — you are a divine image, even though you cannot command the wind and sea at will. The Divine Presence of Almighty God came down to live as a tiny baby, as a small child, because every baby, every child, every human being receives the presence of God in the working of the Holy Spirit, not to perform spectacular deeds to overwhelm the senses, but to do good in the quietest, smallest ways. God wants to see that He is here.
He is with you.
He is within you.
God’s reality is all around you. He seeks your company in your silent stillness and in the little ones, the most vulnerable among us.
Be afraid of your ability to dismiss this truth, to fail to recognize God’s presence. Nothing is more fearsomely powerful than God’s love and nothing is more fearfully pointless than trying to live your life without it. This Advent, as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, God in the flesh, let us pray that we will see God show Himself to us in the littleness of life, and let us pray to the Lord in the words of Isaiah: “Would that You might meet us doing right, that we might be mindful of You in our ways!”
© 2020 Christina Chase
Quotes from Isaiah 63:19, 64:4 (and other references to the Readings for the first week of Advent, 2020)
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.